WILSON'S DOMINATION FALLS SHORT OF VICTORY IN PORTLAND Tagliani Finishes Fifth to Round Out a RSPORTS Double Top Five Effort PORTLAND, Oregon (June 10, 2007) -- It was a day of domination, frustration, and content as RSPORTS driver Justin ...
WILSON'S DOMINATION FALLS SHORT OF VICTORY IN PORTLAND
Tagliani Finishes Fifth to Round Out a RSPORTS Double Top Five Effort
PORTLAND, Oregon (June 10, 2007) -- It was a day of domination, frustration, and content as RSPORTS driver Justin Wilson dominated the first half of the race this afternoon in Portland, Oregon but ended up short of the victory, while teammate Tagliani finished fifth to round out a double top-five effort for RSPORTS which is not only relevant in Portland, but also in the championship points standings in which Tagliani and Wilson now sit fourth and fifth respectively.
History was made this afternoon in Portland, as Champ Car successfully utilized their first standing start at the drop of the green flag for the Mazda Champ Car Grand Prix of Portland Presented by Joe's Sports and Outdoor. Justin Wilson led the 17-car field after claiming his second pole position at the Portland International Raceway circuit. He was able to hold off Robert Doornbos to take the lead heading into the first turn of the 1.964-mile track and the domination began. The Brit showed the power and speed his #9 CDW/RSPORTS machine had by his lead times. On the first lap, he had made a gap between him and second place with a time of 1.484 seconds. By lap 25, Wilson was ahead by 18.480 seconds marking his biggest lead of the day.
On Lap 27, Wilson came in for his first pit stop of the race, and that is when things made a turn for the worst. A tire issue became relevant as Wilson tried hard to keep up his quick pace, but in the meantime, Sebastien Bourdais was running very fast laps and began to closing the gap. After the second pit stop, Wilson remained ahead of Bourdais, but it was on Lap 56 when Bourdais had finally caught up and had the opportunity to get around him. As Bourdais continued to run the quickest laps of the race, he took off, and Wilson had to settle for his second consecutive second-place finish in Portland after taking the checkered flag behind three-time Champ Car champion Bourdais.
Wilson led a total of 51 laps in the one hour and forty five minute timed race in which 103 laps were completed. He earns 27 valuable championship points and moves from eighth in the standings to fifth. This second-place finish marks the first time Wilson stepped foot on the podium in only the fourth race of the 2007 season. This also marks the sixth time the fourth-year Champ Car driver has finished as the runner-up, and the 11th time he has finished on the podium.
Alex Tagliani started fourth on today's grid, but the standing start did not go as well as he was hoping. He would end up losing one position at the start of the race, but maintained a run in the top-five for the majority of the day. The #8 LXN2/RSPORTS car was quick, but all the pieces of the puzzle were just not there for Tagliani and his crew. He made some excellent passes on course, but lost time during other aspects of the race that he just could not make up.
The French-Canadian crossed the Portland finish line in the fifth spot. He continued to attain his goal of getting as many points as he can by grabbing another 21 championship points this afternoon, which helps him maintain his fourth-place spot in the Champ Car standings. After making four starting this season, this finish marks the third time Tagliani has finish in the top-five. He continues to stay strong and determined as he fights for the Vanderbilt Cup this season.
Justin Wilson #9 CDW Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone
"The start went well. Doornbos got a slightly better get-away off the line then I did as I got a little too much wheel spin. I was just watching him alongside as we headed into the first turn. When he braked, I braked, what made it pretty simple was that I was on the inside, so I got through the first turn before him. The first stint for us was working really well. I was just cruising along in the #9 CDW/RSPORTS car, really. I was very comfortable with the car; it felt really good to drive. Then the second stint, I was expecting to pick up the pace but it never happened. I was a little bit surprised at that. But, you know, ultimately we weren't quite quick enough. Sebastien (Bourdais) just slowly ate away at my lead and eventually after the second pit stop he managed to get by me. I am pleased to get on the podium again here in Portland. I think everyone on the #9 CDW car did a great job all weekend. I'm really proud of them. Hopefully we can be up there and challenging for the win at Cleveland. We've got some work to do to make sure that we're competitive in the race situation. But at least we know qualifying is a lot better for us."
Alex Tagliani #8 LNX2 Cosworth/DP01/Bridgestone
"It was a decent day for us because finishing fifth is not that bad. I think there is a couple of little improvements that we need to make here and there just to make our runs a little more consistent and I think when we can do that, we will be much more ahead. Like today, I think that we probably had a third-place car, but we did not save as much fuel as we needed to during the first stint and we had to pit a lap earlier so that threw things off. All in all, there is so much competition in the series that the only way you can get better then where you finish is doing every thing perfect, and I do not think that we did everything perfect this afternoon. I think it is still a decent result with all that considering, and we are able to maintain our fourth place spot in the championship standings. There are some very good races for us coming up - Cleveland, Tremblant, Toronto - which we have big hopes to finish on top."
Paul Gentilozzi, RSPORTS team co-owner
"The end result was a positive for the RSPORTS team, but it is frustrating when you have a car like Justin had to be so dominant and then get caught up between traffic and a set of tires make it not perform as well, but we got second. In Alex's case, he drove hard and we really had a third-place car. We were a little slow on two pit-stops, which cost us track position and in this series you can't give that up, and we gave it up this afternoon. So we will take second and fifth, which helps Alex stay in the fourth spot in the championship standings and jumps Justin up into the fifth spot."
Dan Pettit, RSPORTS team co-owner
"We had a very good day. The race started out great for Justin, we had a great set of Bridgestone Potenza tires and he was dominating the race. But then our second run just was not that good. It was the tires and I am not sure if it was something that we did with the pressures or because the clouds came in or something, but he was struggling and we were just losing time. Then on the last set, we picked it back up again. So something went wrong in between and Justin really did a good job driving the #9 CDW/RSPORTS car this afternoon throughout the battle. I am proud of the whole team; they all did a great job this weekend. It seems like things are starting to really come together, as Alex had a good run this afternoon as well, he had a good car, and to have both of the RSPORTS cars finish in the top five is a success for us."